While writing Shouting at the Rain, I’d periodically have this picture flash in my mind. A picture of my big brother, John, clasping his fingers together to create a step for me to get over fences. It’s a very literal memory for this idea of raising up the people around us. Helping them over their fences.
One of my favorite people in Shouting at the Rain is Esme. She helps my main character, Delsie, over her metaphorical fences. Esme has what I refer to as “strong shoulders.” She is rock solid. She is there for others. She keeps her promises and takes responsibility. She is leaned on, looked up to and trusted. The world is a better place because Esme is in it. There are some others in the book with strong shoulders, as well as some without them. All of these people make up Delsie’s world on Cape Cod.
I knew early on that Esme served some sort of beverage in mason jars; deciding upon tea was easy. My mum had many demons that she battled in her life. I know in my heart that she longed to be a different kind of mom but she just couldn’t get over her own fences. But, sometimes she would come to me and ask, “Should I put on some tea?” Even if I didn’t want any, I’d say yes. We never ate meals together. In fact, when she was home, she barely came out of her room. But when she made tea, we would sit at the Formica table in the kitchen and we’d talk. I’d make her laugh and she’d tell me that she wished I’d been twins. I’d do anything to relive one of those days now.
So, Esme serves what she calls, “that nourishing tea” in Strong Shoulder mason jars, which were used about a hundred years ago. At one point, Delsie asks Esme why she calls her tea, “That Nourishing Tea.” After all, “…it’s just a bunch of dried leaves in hot water,” she says. And Esme tells her that it isn’t the tea. It’s what happens when people sit down across from each other and drink tea. They don’t just look at each other. They see. They don’t just hear. They listen. And these are the times when true human connections are made. When we listen and see and have the bravery to share pieces of ourselves that let others learn who we really are. The things we long for. The things we fear. Our hopes and triumphs and failures. (Grammy has some things to say about this, too.)
Every facet of this book is about CONNECTIONS. Every character is there to show us something about connections – including when to let go of them. Every subplot balances upon the foundation of connections – to each other and to ourselves. For everything that matters in this world is about connections. EVERYTHING.
And so I wrote this whole book knowing that if you take the letters of
THAT NOURISHING TEA
And mix them up, you get
SHOUTING AT THE RAIN
Because, making and fostering and appreciating the connections that make us feel whole is the heart of the book.
So, I’m offering the opportunity to celebrate someone you know who has strong shoulders. Who fits the description on the certificate. (And you will probably strengthen your connection when they learn you see them in this light.) So, I am launching The STRONG SHOULDER CONTEST.
TO ENTER, use a blank piece of 8 ½” x 11” paper and do WHATEVER you wish to do with that piece of paper to celebrate this person. You may simply tell me why this person has changed the world. Or, perhaps, your world. You may create a drawing, a poem, a story or any other piece of art you wish BUT I must be able to understand WHY this person is so special. In the spirit of FISH IN A TREE, I encourage you to use your imagination. However, you may not do something with the paper and then film/photograph it and send me a link. IT MUST BE MAILED to the address below.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
There will be TWO winners in each category:
ADULTS (One entry per person, please)
TWO Grand Prizes for adult entrants. Winners will receive:
- An antique Strong Shoulder jar for both you AND your nominee.
- Personalized Strong Shoulder Award certificates for you and your nominee
- Signed copies of SHOUTING AT THE RAIN for both you and your nominee
- Signed copies of both One for the Murphys and Fish in a Tree for you.
- A 45 minute Skype with me for your class or library.
- Swag for up to 30 kids.
KIDS (One entry per person, please)
TWO winners in each grade level (GRADES 4-8) for a total of ten winners.
The winning nominator (you) will receive:
- a signed copy of SHOUTING AT THE RAIN
- a personalized Strong Shoulder Award certificate
- a T-shirt OR a jar
- Swag (bookmarks, bracelets, etc) for your class of up to 30 kids.
The person you have nominated will receive:
- a personalized Strong Shoulder Award certificate
- a signed copy of Shouting at the Rain
- AND a genuine antique Strong Shoulder jar.
*Prizes for both you & your winner will be mailed to YOU so you can present the prize.
HOW DO YOU ENTER?
CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE strong shoulder award contest ENTRY FORM (If your computer is like mine, check for a tab at the bottom of your screen upon clicking on this. That tab will open a window from which to print)
You MUST print this entry form, fill it out, and then attach it to your 8 ½” x 11” entry. (NOTE: If you want to keep your original send me a copy. Entries will NOT be returned!) In fact, it would be great if **YOU kept the original and gave it to “your person.”
TEACHERS – if you do this as a class project EVERY entry must have its OWN entry form! However, they may all be mailed together.
YOUR ENTRY MUST BE RECEIVED by MONDAY, MAY 20th.
Okay. Start THINKING. And get ready to celebrate someone who probably doesn’t expect it. WHICH IS SO MUCH FUN!